Erin Redfern’s poetry has most recently appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Compose. In 2015, she will serve as poetry judge for the San Francisco School District’s Arts Festival and as associate editor of Poetry Center San Jose’s print publication, Caesura. Website: erinredfern.net
Photograph of a Drugged Giraffe
The strong stalk of its neck has gone slack on the packed sand,
revealing a long face, dun-colored cheek,
and dark, puckered underside of lip.
The lifted chin is so slender
that the bearded man in work boots and a white t-shirt
can cup it in one hand. The ear, velvet lily, pivots
to hear what is happening to the body,
back there, outside of the frame, where the metal doors screech
and the ramp of the transport truck crashes open.
Leather gloves flare from the man’s pockets
as if they, too, are listening for what happens next.
He’s bent at the waist, the small of his back taking the weight
of the great head–tongue, bone, brain, skin.
Sighting down the sloped neck
he doesn’t see between his arms
the giraffe looking up at his heart,
doesn’t meet the thick-fringed eye gazing at him
the way the untried Gorgythion, Priam’s blameless son,
might in the midst of battle have gazed back at the ramparts
before the arrow sent for Hector found him instead
and his perfect head drooped like a dew-heavy poppy on its slim stem
–a look like a coverless book, spine cracked so it opens here,
to this sweet face, this tilted throat, these buckled knees
pressing the ground beneath, this ground
become sky in the black eyes
that know neither resignation nor hope.